NZ Local News

Weather: Storm’s fury – Evacuations across top of South Island, flooding in Far North

A state of emergency was declared in Nelson, the West Coast and Buller as heavy rains continued to hammer the country. Video...

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A state of emergency was declared in Nelson, the West Coast and Buller as heavy rains continued to hammer the country.
Video / Tim Cuff / George Heard / Phil G-J / Alison Boswijk / Terra Firma Engineering Limited / Supplied


Flooding has closed parts of SH1 and SH10 in Northland
Three injured in a crash in Northland after a tree fell on SH1
A state of emergency remains in force for Nelson-Tasman and Westland
Emergency Management minister to assess damage today
More than 200 people were forced to evacuate their homes
Defence personnel patrolled streets overnight in Nelson

Hundreds of people remain forced from their homes in Nelson and Buller as a super-charged deluge continues to swamp parts of New Zealand, with rivers breaching banks, roads closed and strong winds downing trees.

The tropically-fuelled storm, which has seen more than 300mm of rain fall in parts of the South Island since midnight Wednesday, is now wreaking havoc at the top of the country with toppled trees blocking major roads and rivers beginning to breach banks in the Far North.

Much of the North Island is under a swathe of strong wind and heavy rain warnings with fierce conditions not expected to let up until tomorrow.

Emergency Management Minister Keiran McAnulty is due to visit flood-hit Nelson this morning as large sections of the city remain under water.

(Article continues beneath live blog)

Two western regions in the South Island lie under a rare red rain warning which is not expected to lift until later today at the earliest.

it comes as a fresh threat of “significant rain” is looming for the West Coast with an updated forecast due to guide council officials on preparing the community for the anticipated incoming deluge.

“We’re just waiting now for a detailed weather update at 10.30 am just to plan next steps because we’re conscious that quite a significant amount of rain is still in the forecast going forward into the weekend.

“We’re just seeing if that’s reaffirmed at 10.30am and that’s definitely going to guide the decisions in terms of resources and what we do from here,” said Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine.

This morning state highways in Northland were closed due to flooding at the Kaeo River Bridge on SH10 and the Rangiahua Bridge on SH1.

A fallen tree led to a crash involving three vehicles on State Highway 1 at Hikurangi around 4.50am.

Police said one person received moderate injuries and two people suffered minor injuries.

A state of emergency remains in force in Nelson-Tasman and West Coast as rain continues to fall.

McAnulty is set to see the damage first hand in coming hours after a briefing by the Nelson mayor and local civil defence chiefs.

Last night residents from more than 200 homes were evacuated from Nelson after the Maitai River bust its banks flooding central parts.

The army patrolled swamped streets as residents sought refuge elsewhere in the city.

The region’s civil defence said with more rain forecast for coming days there could be more slips, flooding and evacuations needed.

It said at this stage there was no telling how long people would need to stay out of their flood-hit properties with all homes needed to be assessed for safety before people could return.

This morning Nelson mayor Rachel Reese said residents were in for a challenging day, urging people to stay home.

“We have had some more evacuations overnight mainly precautionary; we have had a road failure on Toronui Hills and we have had 10 homes evacuated just as a precaution,” she told Gold Sport.

A digger works to clear a slip in Nelson. Photo / George Heard
A digger works to clear a slip in Nelson. Photo / George Heard

“This event has hit both [Tasman-Nelson] regions and we have got some major roads closed. We want people to stay home if they can, work from home.

“If you are going to be travelling please make sure you have got water, food and warm clothes with you, because you will have delays.

“We have lost our main arterial route through to Ports so all the heavy vehicles are having to come through the city so it is going to be a challenging day for us we have got things set up but the best thing we can do is have people off the roads.”

She said people should treat all water as contaminated, because there had been pump station overflows and sewers had broken.

“Treat all water as contaminated, don’t let your kids jumping around in puddles please.”

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